For year’s I’ve been intrigued by the music for the female variation from Le Corsaire (the one with the Italian fouettés at the end), noting that just very occasionally, you see it attributed to Anton Simon (1850-1916) rather than Riccardo Drigo who is the acknowledged as the composer of the pas de deux as a whole. How could one of the most famous solos in the ballet repertoire be so frequently misattributed?
When I wanted to refer to this solo in an article I wrote in 2000 (“Can I have the wrong music please?”) I just risked it and called it Anton Simon’s Souvenir de Bal, even though I had never seen any proof that this was true, just a single reference on a CD inlay card. The British Library has a book of parlour pieces by Anton Simon which would have settled it one way or another, but it’s now 7 years since I wrote the article, and I’ve never found the time to go there, and search as I might, I’ve never come across a single piece by Simon anywhere.
And then, I just stumbled across it, literally, as I was sorting some books out at home. (To the torment of friends, family and significant others, I hoard second hand music. I started when I was about 6, and I still can’t stop myself). I’d spread the contents of my shelves on the floor to put it into rough alphabetical order, and tripped over an album containing a number of pieces by East European composers, published around 1916 by Edwin Ashdown. Flicking through it to see whether this was a centimetre of shelf-space that I could reclaim for something better, I noticed a Berceuse by Anton Simon. Was there any chance, I thought, that the Souvenir de Bal was in here too? And blow me down, there it was – it’s been on my shelves since I was a child – I probably played it once before I knew what it was, if you see what I mean.
So here’s a scan of the first page, for the two or three other people in the world that might be as interested as I am to see the proof on paper at last. All credit to the people who’ve created some marvellous pages on Amazon and Wikipedia and given Simon his due.